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Medical ships and fluff

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Regardless of how the medical ships announced for several factions will look stats- and ruleswise in the end, there is something that is bothering me about their impending introduction: What they say about the fluff and the war that is being fought in the Firestorm galaxy.

Now this might obviously be just me, but one of the things that drew me into Firestorm is that the central conflict that forms the backdrop to our games is neither a straight up good versus evil space opera nor is it a dystopian (ahem) vision of neverending war and everchanging allegiances. It is instead portrayed as something springing from galactic history and politics, with all factions (bar the Pathogen) having some sort of understandable motivation and aims and with stable alliances or at least co-belligerents.

For me, that also implied that this war of ours was in some fashion governed by some set of rules of war. With all the nukes and biohazard munitions flying about obviously not exactly the ones we are familiar with, but still a step removed from a genocidal massslaughter without limits, rhyme or reason.

Or to describe it differently: The Burning of Dramos to me always read as a singular war crime,  not as something cited in Terran Alliance training manuals as standard operating procedure for successfully dealing with enemy population centres.

With medical ships on the table, I foresee this take on the background losing a lot of its current feasibility.

Purposefully attacking and destroying hospital ships, targeting enemy wounded and singling out medical staff for killing will sudenly become part and parcel of every battle. That alone paints a very different picture of the conflict and of the people involved in it.

If I am honest, I am not sure what to make of that yet, but more than any of the retcons or new mechanics this changes the game on a very fundamental level.

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Maybe they should have a different title?  They don't seem to be really "medical" ships anyway, as I can't imagine a couple of shuttles of medics managing to restore crew on the scale needed to amount to a CP on ships (maaaaybe for Directorate? depends on how long it would take to augment out a person).  Perhaps they should be "reinforcement" ships, and explained as having trained crew replacements ready to restaff ships that have suffered significant losses.  On a failure roll, your available backup personnel didn't match the needs of the ship?

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most of these "medical" ships will likely still mount weapons, weak or no, if a ship is battle capable, and firing upon other ships, whether or not medical personal are on board becomes a moot point, even by Geneva conventions, that's a warship, the crime lies in mounting weapons on a ship full of medics, putting them in a warzone, and having there ship participate.

(either way odd fluff, but a particularly noble commander, may elect to not use the weapons on there support carrier, or still refuse to shoot one)

honestly, my bet is this is how they will make escort carriers viable, no one really uses them, but if they are the only ships who can carry medical/support shuttles, they would see a lot more use, and may even become a staple...not sure how I feel about that i'll be honest :) 

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Perhaps a breakdown of the Star-Geneva conventions as the fighting grows more bitter could be remarked upon in the fluff. I imagine a new Dindrenzi doctrine would encourage targeting medical staff of the most noble and fair  evil and oppressive warcriminals of the Terran Alliance. Provoking the Alliance into developing armed medical ships and formulating a counter doctrine. This would eventually lead to the development of medical transportship in all factions. This new Dindrenzi doctrine would of course be sponsored by the Directorate and the Church of Dramos Angels. 

This new development would fit pretty well into the narrative of the increased fanaticism of the Dindrenzi Federation and provide a counter point to the burning of Dramos showing the ongoing change in Dindrenzi society. It would also allow for the general fact that wars become more brutal the longer and more indecisive they are.

The only problem is that Terrans don't actually have a medical ship coming up. But im just thinking out loud here...

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they might in the form of escort carriers :) but time will tell, which carriers carrying which SRS is actually the thing that i'm most looking forward to seeing as far as stat changes, well that, and all my beloved cloaked ships...

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While the convention of hospital ships and other non-combatant targets has gone fairly well in modern world history, you have to wonder to what extent aliens would grasp or embrace the concept.  Perhaps the armed ships were a necessary precaution against outsiders who either don't understand "not a target" or who can't be made to care.

In either case, I still think that medical ships as a concept don't make much sense.  With casualties on the scale of what must take place on these gigantic spaceships, there's no way a few teams of additional medics could make a meaningful contribution to manpower within the time constraints of a single battle.  Make people more comfortable? Sure.  Save lives?  Absolutely.  Turn hundreds of unfit-for-duty casualties into fighting-ready troops?  Eh?  Almost certainly not.  While mechanically useful, the fluff should be reconsidered.

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9 hours ago, Paladin21 said:

In either case, I still think that medical ships as a concept don't make much sense.  With casualties on the scale of what must take place on these gigantic spaceships, there's no way a few teams of additional medics could make a meaningful contribution to manpower within the time constraints of a single battle.  Make people more comfortable? Sure.  Save lives?  Absolutely.  Turn hundreds of unfit-for-duty casualties into fighting-ready troops?  Eh?  Almost certainly not.  While mechanically useful, the fluff should be reconsidered.

6 hours ago, Polaris said:

they have fold space drives, why not insta-heal pods ;) 

I would agree whit Polaris here. Surely the medical technology of the future would feature advanced cybernetics,trauma kits even nanites and most importantly battledrugs that would be able to return a good deal of soldiers to operational level until the end of the engagement.

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I.m.o the whole concept of medical ships reanimating crew (and repair ships repairing combat damage) in the midst of a space battle doesn't improve believability.

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I personally don't mind the medical crews, it was in 2.0 as well (mind you, I got very annoyed when I had decrewed a ship, and it gets all it's crew back, with some of my cyber heavy vs carrier heavy encounters, I had become predictable, and he had 3 full tokens of support craft

annoying yes, but it's part of the tactics, and prevented cyber from dominating

now that crew loss doesn't matter nearly as much, an cyber can't target life support, and most criticals can't kill crew, yeah, medical ships will keep on top of things, but in 3.0, it doesn't matter as much

the real draw for the new srs is that they can repair hull points.

explain THAT one ;) 

however with how fast ships die, again the usefulness will be mitigated

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I agree that in terms of realism the whole concept of medical and repair ships doesn't make much sense. Sure, they would exists, but they would not have any meaningful impact within the short time span of a battle. They would hang around in the back and patch things up after the battle. They also could become targets during the battle and valuable objectives worth defending, but I can't see the thematic sense in them repairing/restaffing ships during a battle to such an extent that it should matter in the game.

BUT

Let's not forget that FSA is a game and like all games it is just an abstraction of more complex systems. And from a game design point I really like the idea of these highly specialized ships. They just add more tools to the toolbox for both the designers and the players.

I think they have the potential to make fleetbuilding more interesting and they can also be used for custom scenarios (escort medical convois?), so I will welcome them in my fleets.

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I think for deep space strikes bringing medical and repair ships make sense, but they would be left at a designated regroup point rather than with the line for battle

but with advance tech and nano/rapid repair/healing capability these could be brought into battle as tier 3 auxiliary ships they could function as escorts

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